Recently I was going through the submissions to this blog and as the amount of submissions is so large, which of those were suited to my taste and those that reflected the coverage on the blog. For the most part the releases are in the ambient/drone and modern classical styles. For that reason this release by Berlin artist Sascha Bachmann aka HAND on the Brooklyn label and software developer, Puremagnetik, stood out with it’s William Basinski and GAS influenced sounds.
“On Reveal, Sascha Bachman, aka HAND, has created a unique balance of classic ambient music, sounds and musical figures that touch the edge of melody and harmony, and a just-above-subliminal pulse. These elements come together in a sound world that is in turn comforting and haunting. Reveal’s surface may be gentle, but the music reaches deep, starting with the stratospheric heights of “God Only Knows,” to the galactic distances of “Into the Void,” and concluding with “Poem for Tanja,” a nostalgic poem for magnetic tape.”
A drummer with an interest in analogue tape machines, the Berlin based Bachmann decided a change was in order to pursue the electronic sounds that he heard around him.
“One day I decided to give it a try and quit some bands to focus on research for how I can create my own sound. By that time I was listening a lot to William Basinski, Basic Channel, and GAS. I was always thinking, how would Basinski sound if he made music for the dance floor?”
The answer to that question is the six track, thirty minute release” Reveal”. The good thing about “Reveal” is the simple fact that while building on the influence of Basinski and Voigt, Bachmann adds some of his own personality and other sounds sources into the melting pot, to give a distance between his works and those of his inspirations. Choral sounds, Dream Pop, Shoegaze, Dark Synth and even the barest of hints of old school Industrial make their way into the sonic fabric that is HAND.
The opener “God Only Knows” follows the dance floor orientated question Bachmann posed for himself while mixing in with it loops that mix up the feeling of Hazy Hauntological origins. The beats are suitably minimal and repetitive. Sometimes I wonder whether the use of the term repetitive in reviews is taken to the wrong way. As a fan of music that relies on repetition with subtle changes throughout and moving through different soundscapes, I think this is a positive element as it creates a trance like state within the music. It also works nicely with longer pieces. “Song For The Melloncollie” is a more Ambient/Drone track with a static haze and distant and washed out feel. Not submitting to the true melancholia feel within the music, it is sculpted nicely by the moving percussion that leads the track through it’s droning core and leads us closer towards, but not onto, the dance floor.
“Burn Bridges” benefits from mindful headphone listening with it’s static soaked dub techno feel. The washes of sounds and barely there beats evolve with a natural feeling, which results in the gentlest of changes in texture. When the beats fade into the background the track becomes more of a drone piece with it’s almost choral like sounds building before the track returns, albeit slightly changed, to it’s original form. “Turned to Dust” is when the darker storm affected sounds enter the frey. Bachmann really comes into his own with this piece that feels like a track devoted to barely there nostalgia. This is the example of the old school industrial I mentioned at the beginning. The beats, beginning like heartbeat sound like they are from a distant foundry, the drones have a sharp edge to them as they cut through, followed with a more ambient undercurrent which gives the piece an orchestral feel. There is a nice balance between all the elements, with the track residing in more darker spheres without being bleak or claustrophobic.It shows just another dimension to the HAND sound.
“Into The Void” brings dark retro synth sounds that evoke the “Blade Runner” score. This takes the music in a different direction. While its still has the core elements that make up the other pieces, there is a definite cinematic feel that verges on mutated jazz/new age meets possibly Witch House. It’s a brave thing to do, extending on what has come before, but taking it into a different direction. As a standalone track it works, but within the whole album it stands out a bit. “Poem For Tanya” is pure hauntological with it’s vinyl crackle/musical box style distorted loop opening that is joined by a more hope filled sci-fi like new age-y synth stabs. These synth stabs dominate over the loops and have a free form feel which juxtaposed nicely with ever present short loops, which return and bring the piece full circle.
For my own personal taste the first four tracks are worth the price of admission. The only thing I really wish is that the pieces were pushed further in length. I could easily listen to ten to fifteen minutes versions of them. “Reveal” was nicely mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri and is available in a limited edition of fifty cassettes and Digital.